Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Good Place Revisited: Most Ambitious TV Comedy Ever

While I'm a forgiving critic, I don't think I'm prone to hyperbole. So when I tell you that I think The Good Place might be the most ambitious comedy ever made for network television, I'm not one of those idiots who hail the latest as the greatest simply because I haven't seen anything made before yesterday afternoon.

All thirteen episodes of The Good Place are available for streaming at NBC.com, on demand or, I think, Hulu (I'm old — I don't get Netflix or Hulu or any of those streaming platforms).

Drop everything. Binge-watch it today.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Don't Cry For Me, Argentina


America had a nice run — 240 years of top-flight democracy is better than most countries, and only one civil war! Okay, so now we're Argentina under the Perons, but you know, even that inspired a really good musical.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sergio Leone And The Infield Fly Rule: Professor Moriarty's Notoriously Nettlesome And Nefarious New Year's Day 2017 Movie Quiz

Almost missed another fun-time movie quiz from Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

1) Best movie of 2016
I liked Hell or High Water and Love & Friendship. Haven't seen Manchester by the Sea yet, for which I have high hopes.

2) Worst movie of 2016
There were, according to imdb.com, 12,414 movies released in 2016. I haven't seen enough of them to have any idea what might be the worst.

3) Best actress of 2016
I thought Kate Beckinsale should have gotten more notice for Love & Friendship.

4) Best actor of 2016
Jeff Bridges got the nominations for Hell or High Water but Chris Pine did the heavy lifting. Heard good things about Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea.

5) What movie from 2016 would you prefer not hearing another word about? Why?
Since blogspot ate all my movie links in October and we dropped our subscription to New Yorker before that, I haven't heard or read much about anything movie-related. Have people been talking about movies?

6) Second-favorite Olivier Assayas movie
You flatter me by assuming I know who Olivier Assayas is.

7) Miriam Hopkins or Kay Francis?
Miriam Hopkins, although Kay Francis got the better of her when they squared off in Trouble in Paradise. Favorite Miriam Hopkins performance? Design for Living followed by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). I wrote about the latter here. Dig her in Lubitsch's The Smiling Lieutenant, too.

8) What’s the story of your first R-rated movie?
A bunch of misfits join a college fraternity. Hi-jinks ensue. Although that's problem not what you meant. I want to say my first R-rated movie was Animal House, but I can't swear to it. Anyway, I saw it with a pal and his father. No sneaking around, no shy tittering behind raised hands, just three people watching a very funny movie.

9) What movie from any era that you haven’t yet seen would you be willing to resolve to see before this day next year?
I'm not committing myself to anything.

10) Second-favorite Pedro Almodovar movie
I don't know. Volver?

11) What movie do you think comes closest to summing up or otherwise addressing the qualities of 2016?
Apparently they never made a movie of It Can't Happen Here, so maybe A Face in the Crowd?

12) Chris Pine or Chris Pratt?
Like them both. If I were casting the movie running in my head, I'd cast Chris Pratt if I wanted to emphasize the comedic elements of the story, Chris Pine the dramatic.

13) Your favorite movie theater, presently or from the past
AFI-Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland, particularly theater one.

14) Favorite movie involving a family celebration
Hannah and Her Sisters revolved around a series of family celebrations (rather than celebrations of family). That might be the best. Still, the most under-rated is The Ref, starring Denis Leary as a thief who takes Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey and their family hostage at Christmas time. O.Henry style hilarity ensues. If you broke into my house and forced me to watch one of the two, I'd watch The Ref.

15) Second-favorite Paul Schrader movie
Taxi Driver, I suppose, although I don't like it nearly as much as most others do.

16) Ruth Negga or Hayley Atwell?
Hayley Atwell. I thought the first season of TV's Agent Carter was terrific.

17) Last three movies you saw, in any format
La La Land at the theater. Pleasantly meh.
The Maltese Falcon on DVD. Classic.
The Thin Man streaming. Classic.

18) Your first X-rated, or porn movie?
It's been so long since I've seen a porn movie, Ronald Reagan was president and porn stars had pubic hair!

19) Richard Boone or Charles McGraw?
Is this a trick question? Richard Boone.

20) Second-favorite Chan-wook Park movie
Ate a bagel in Bryant Park last time I was in New York, does that count?

21) Movie that best encompasses or expresses loneliness
The Apartment is probably my favorite. The "Over The Rainbow" sequence of The Wizard of Oz may be my favorite scene on the subject.


22) What’s your favorite movie to watch with your best friend?
Well, my best friend is Katie-Bar-The-Door. I'd say my favorite movie to watch with her is whichever one we're watching together.

23) Who’s the current actor you most look forward to seeing in 2017?
Looking forward to seeing Kristen Bell in the season (and probably series) finale of The Good Place tomorrow night.

24) Your New Year’s wish for the movies
That Katie-Bar-The-Door and I actually make it to the movies with our pals from time to time.

Monday, January 16, 2017

La La Land: A Short Dissenting Opinion

As we were walking out of the theater last night after seeing La La Land, Katie-Bar-The-Door said, "I kind of liked it, but I didn't think it was great."

And I said, "I'm not even sure I liked it" and then added a little while later, "I'll bet I could name 100 musicals I liked better."

I did the next best thing. I did an advanced search of the Internet Movie Database against my own ratings for musicals. La La Land ranks 140th on my list.

My own musical Mt. Rushmore:


See La La Land, sure, but don't pull another The Artist and think it's the best musical ever just because you've never seen a musical.